Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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After plaintiff was appointed as a presidential elector during the 2016 presidential election, he was deemed to have vacated his position under Minnesota's Uniform Faithful Presidential Electors Act, Minn. Stat. 208.40-208.48, when he attempted to vote for candidates other than those to whom he was pledged. Plaintiff then filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the Minnesota statute and to enjoin Minnesota officials from counting the vote of the substitute elector. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action as moot where Congress had counted the Minnesota elector votes, and denied plaintiff's motion to supplement the record and to remand for further proceedings on mootness. The court held that plaintiff failed to establish that his action fell within the mootness exception for cases that were capable of repetition yet evading review because plaintiff failed to file his action sooner. View "Abdurrahman v. Dayton" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Trimark in an action filed by plaintiff, alleging that she was terminated from her job as an executive housekeeper because of her age, in retaliation against her, because she took protected leave, and because she opposed Millennium's discriminatory practices. The court held that plaintiff failed to provide direct evidence that she was retaliated against because of her deposition testimony. Under the McDonnell-Douglas framework, even assuming plaintiff could establish a prima facie case of retaliation, Millennium had clearly shown a legitimate non-discriminatory or retaliatory reason for firing her. In this case, Millennium's internal investigation credibly exposed that plaintiff regularly altered employee hours without using a company-sanctioned form. The court also held that plaintiff failed to show a specific link between any age discrimination and her termination sufficient to support the inference that the discrimination was the cause of her termination. Finally, plaintiff failed to provide any direct evidence that she was fired because she took protected leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. View "Naguib v. Trimark Hotel Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Holiday Stationstores, alleging claims for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) based on the company's failure to provide a compliant handicap-accessible parking space at one of its stores. The district court granted Holiday's motion for summary judgment and dismissed plaintiff's claims. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied plaintiff's motion to strike the affidavit of Holiday's Vice President of Engineering. The court vacated the district court's judgment dismissing the ADA claim and held that, although the ADA claim was moot after Holiday permanently flattened the access aisle, it was wrong to dismiss the claim because the proper procedure was to remand the claim to state court. Furthermore, the portion of the judgment dismissing plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief under the Minnesota Human Rights Act must also be vacated and remanded to state court. Finally, the court held that plaintiff's claim for damages under the MHRA was not moot and the district court should, on remand, determine whether it wished to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over this claim. View "Hillesheim v. Holiday Stationstores, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and his wife filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the City and members of the police department who investigated a student's allegation that plaintiff sexually assaulted her. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants, holding that the district court correctly identified the governing Rule 56(d) principles, so there was no error of law amounting to an abuse of discretion. In this case, plaintiff presented no evidence tending to refute or contradict defendants' strong evidence from the state court proceedings that their conduct in investigating the student's serious allegation of sexual misconduct, however questionable or incomplete, was not conscious-shocking behavior as a matter of law. The court held that officers were entitled to summary judgment where the investigation did not violate plaintiff's constitutional rights. Consequently, the district court dismissed claims for supervisory liability against the police chief and the city. The court affirmed the dismissal of claims for malicious prosecution, negligent hiring and supervision and loss of consortium affirmed. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiffs' Rule 56(d) request to defer its ruling until additional discovery was completed and in granting summary judgment dismissing all claims. View "Johnson v. Moody" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order permanently enjoining enforcement of a recently enacted provision of the Missouri Constitution, Missouri Constitution Article VIII, Section 23.3(12), which prohibits a political action committee from receiving contributions from other political action committees. The court held that the prohibition unconstitutionally infringed on a political action committee's First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. The court held that the amendment violated the First Amendment as applied to political action committees (PACs) that donate only to candidates and to PACs that both donate to candidates and make independent expenditures, and the state did not have a sufficiently important interest in preventing contributions to a PAC that makes only independent expenditures. View "Free and Fair Election Fund v. Missouri Ethics Commission" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit vacated a preliminary injunction enjoining provisions of Missouri Revised Statute section 197.200 (2007), which required a doctor who performs abortions at an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) to have surgical privileges at a licensed hospital in the community, and regulations issued by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which required a number of physical design and layout provisions for facilities performing abortions. The court held that a substantive due process challenge to the Physical Plant Regulations—governed by the "cost-benefit analysis" required by the undue burden standard—was not currently fit for judicial resolution given the paucity of evidence on how DHSS will grant waivers. Because the court lacked sufficient information to make a constitutional determination on the Physical Plant Regulations, the court remanded to the district court for further consideration. The court also held that the district court failed to apply the plain language of Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, 136 S. Ct. 2292, as revised (June 27, 2016), when it enjoined the Hospital Relationship Requirement. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court, at the very least, to weigh the state's asserted benefits against the burdens associated with the requirement. View "Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains v. Hawley" on Justia Law

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In 2011, plaintiff filed suit against the city and others, in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging violations of the First and Fourth Amendments, as well as violations of state law. Plaintiff's claims stemmed from a no-knock forceful entry into a club. Before final judgment in the first action, plaintiff filed the present suit, alleging claims arising from the events occurring at the club on the night of the no-knock entry. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court correctly ruled that res judicata barred Counts 1, 2, 5, and 8, because they involved claims against the same parties from the first action, and plaintiff could have brought the new claims in the first action. As to the remaining counts, the court held that they were properly dismissed because these claims arose out of the same raid, and involved defendants who could have been joined in the first action. As the district court explained, allowing plaintiff to circumvent the district court's ruling on his untimely motion for leave to amend in the first action by bringing a second action against the new defendants would unreasonably burden the parties and the court. View "Elbert v. Carter" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of petitioner's claim seeking post-conviction relief as untimely. Petitioner asserted that, in light of Johnson v. United States, the district court violated his rights under the Due Process Clause by sentencing him as a career offender based on the residual clause of USSG 4B1.2(a)(2). The court explained that whether Johnson restarted the one-year limitations period turns on whether Johnson "newly recognized" this asserted right. In this case, petitioner's asserted right was not dictated by Johnson. Rather, the better view was that Beckles v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 886 (2017), leaves open the question of whether the mandatory guidelines are susceptible to vagueness challenges. The court held that, because the question remains open, and the answer was reasonably debatable, Johnson did not recognize the right asserted by petitioner. Therefore, petitioner could not benefit from the limitations period in 28 U.S.C. 2255(f)(3), and the district court correctly dismissed his motion as untimely. View "Russo v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Northern in an action alleging that the company failed to accommodate plaintiff's disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court held that plaintiff's arguments did not establish a genuine dispute of material fact that Northern did not interact in good faith as a matter of law. Under the circumstances, the timing of Northern's response was insufficient to support a finding that the company did not act in good faith; there was no evidence to support a finding that Northern prematurely abandoned the interactive process; and Northern did not attempt to demonstrate that some other boot would be as effective as a boot that conformed to the performance standards. View "Sharbono v. Northern States Power Co." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit held that the procedural element of the new substantive rule of constitutional law made retroactive in Montgomery v. Louisiana did not apply in this case and the district court did not err in denying successive habeas relief. The court held that petitioner's life sentence for conspiracy was based on conspiratorial conduct which extended well into his adult years and the sentence was imposed under an advisory guidelines regime that allowed the district court to consider his early participation as a juvenile, as well as other relevant mitigating factors. The court also held that petitioner's sentence of life plus 60 years did not violate the Eighth Amendment and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying more comprehensive resentencing after it vacated his mandatory life sentence on one count under Miller v. Alabama and resentenced him. View "Wright v. United States" on Justia Law